Dan Gross: Vick's PR link to Bush No. 1

Posted: August 19, 2009

DURING PUPPY-killer-turned-Eagle Michael Vick's interview on "60 Minutes" Sunday, a reference was made to a team of PR and image consultants who were working to help rebrand Vick to the masses following his release from federal prison. One of the consultants shown was Washington, D.C.-based Judy Smith.

Smith, a former White House press aide under the first President Bush, came under fire earlier this year while working for New York Gov. David Paterson, and was blamed for telling reporters that Caroline Kennedy would not be considered for Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat due to problems related to taxes, her marriage and a nanny.

Smith was reported in February to have orchestrated the public attacks on Kennedy and her character, though signs later pointed to Paterson as having approved of the leaked info.

Smith did not return an e-mail yesterday asking when she started working with Vick and whether she was hired by him or by the Eagles organization. Eagles spokeswoman Pamela Browner-Crawley said the team is not footing the bill for any outside communications consultants. Browner-Crawley also says the team has not donated money to animal welfare organizations in exchange for support of Vick's signing.

Out and about

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard dined in separate parties at El Vez (13th & Sansom) Monday night after the Jimmy Rollins Celebrity BaseBowl event at Lucky Strike (1336 Chestnut). Howard went for queso fundido, surf and turf tacos and Mexican chocolate cake. Utley, dining with attorney Justin Wineburgh, who is representing Utley's wife Jen in a suit against a moving company, went for guacamole and chips and sea-bass tacos. Two tables sent over drinks to Utley, who accepted.

Later Monday, Utley and Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen turned up at Stogie Joe's (1801 E. Passyunk), where there was an open-mic night. The pair had a few drinks at the bar, where each was happy to pose for photographs and sign autographs.

* "Dancing With the Stars" professionals Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy spent time with their families Monday at Atlantic City's Borgata. The couple dined along with their parents at Izakaya, where Maks fed Karina some of chef Michael Schulson's sushi. The party continued at club mur.mur, where the couple danced it up.

Rendell on board for golf outing

Gov. Rendell is scheduled to serve as auctioneer at the 20th annual Jerry Segal Classic at Green Valley Country Club in Lafayette Hill. The Sept. 25 event is also held in part at the ACE Center, and the annual golf outing, the area's largest golf fundraiser, benefits Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. Segal, a lawyer, was injured in a surgical error and left a quadriplegic in 1988. Magee professionals helped him get back on his feet - and back on the golf course - and he's been giving back to the hospital ever since. For more information on the classic, visit SegalClassic.com, call 215- 569-4600, or visit MageeRehab.org.

YouTube buzz for Philly duo

Celebrity fashion stylist Anthony Henderson and Jason Strong, a heath-care advocate and special-ed teacher, have been picking up viewers on their YouTube show "The StrongHenney Show." The two Philly guys met after both moved to Los Angeles, where they tape most of the celebrity interviews on their show.

To view the show, search YouTube for "StrongHenney."

Visit PhillyGossip.com for Dan's latest updates or follow PhillyGossip on Twitter. Have a tip? Call 215-854-5963, or e-mail grossd@phillynews.com. For recent columns, visit go.philly.com/dangross.

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